Anyone else's horse whip shy?


New Member
Aug 12, 2005
How do I teach him to accept the whip? or any other ideas in place of the whip?

He's got worse with it lately, probably because he's been more forward so I haven't even carried it with him. He doesn't react badly when I touch him with it when I'm not on him!

Today we were running through a dressage test and it was effort getting him to move, so I touched the short crop on his shoulder and he flat out galloped around the arena for half a lap, then he was really snorty and het up. it's not like I whacked him, literally stroked his shoulder.

SO FRUSTRATING. sometimes he ignores my leg and it's not easy having nothing to back it up with. he'll respond to my voice to a degree. He responds just as strongly to flicking the end of the reins on his neck as he does to the whip so I can't even do that.



Curly Wurly 1997 - 2009
Apr 11, 2006
Yorkshire! land of the sheepies!
i carry a whip but my hoss hates it and the lady who is going to be schooling her noted that it made her worse.
i sometimes carry a whip and flick it - not to touch her but just to grab her attention.

maybe something like impulse spurs might help you to back up your legs?


New Member
Apr 9, 2008
When I got Forest he was petrified of all whips.

I spent a lot of time on a long line in the school holding a lunge whip. Praising him as he let me touch him with it all over without panicing. Eventually we did get there and now I can even stroke over his ears and face (gently obviously) with it and he doesn't move.
I did the same with schooling whips and short whips.

As I don't need one to ride with it was just a case of getting him used to it though :)


New Member
Mar 31, 2008

You could try whacking it onto side of your boot. That way it makes a noise but doesn't touch the horse. :)


New Member
Aug 12, 2005
thanks guys! i guess i could get him more used to it on the ground.

if i flick my boot/leg to make a noise he reacts really badly :( i think he's genuinely frightened of it. he's a bit of a wimp in general (though much better than when i got him) and he was really headshy when i got him. maybe it isn't fair of me to carry a whip with him?

it used to be that i could lay it againt his shoulder and he'd speed up nicely, but not run off.

i don't think i'd trust myself with spurs :eek: my leg isn't really unstable doing flatwork but i wouldn't trust myself.


New Member
Aug 12, 2005
Ahh I need help with this :(

Took him outside today on a lungeline and brought a short crop. The plan was to get him to let me stroke him with it but I couldn't get ANYWHERE near him with it :rolleyes: he really freaked out, I wasn't waving it in his face or anything, literally just standing at his shoulder with the whip facing towards the ground..

I tried giving him a polo (he LOVES polos!) but he didn't want to know while I was holding the whip. Put the whip on the floor and he would take a polo after lots of snorting.

oh dear..


rather be riding...
May 22, 2005
My pony was terrified of whips (now just scared, it's an improvement ;)). He would freak if you had one, let alone use one. Even just waving your hands around slightly would send him into a panic.
I did alot of work on him de sensitising him on the ground, making him realise they weren't going to hurt him. I also found that he was alot more tolerant of schooling whips, so I started off using that with him. He's still abit panicky, but he is definately getting there. A light tickle of the schooling whip can wind him up, but also there are days when he doesn't care.

What I learnt was
taps on the shoulder with short whip= No go!!
Slight tickle on the bum with schooling whip= exagerated response but alot calmer
Hope you can sort it :)


Active Member
Dec 30, 2006
I really hope you can get this sorted soon.

My thought would be to treat it like I did with desensitising Joy to clippers.

Your first task would be to find out where her comfort zone lies. Is she ok with it lying on the groud with nobody holding it or is it just when a person is involved?

I'd put the clippers on the edge of Joy's comfort zone whilst eating and then slowly but surely move it in a little bit the next day. Then establish a new comfort zone and then move in a bit more and a bit more over a period that suits the horse.


New Member
Jan 31, 2006
spruce grove, alberta
I would say to do alot of ground work and lunge line work.. first try and use the whip as a trotting pole for him to go over..after he is good with it there move it to the ground beside you..then when he is good with it there stand the whip up..then when he is good there hold the whip in your hand..then when he is good there start working on touching him with slowly making the circles smaller and smaller.

good luck


New Member
Jan 15, 2008
North Yorkshire
Desensitizing I guess is the option, from the ground.

I have the opposite problem, even if I wiggle the whip in front of him he just tries to eat it! :eek:


My favorite type of tea!!
Nov 12, 2008
south wales
Tets has a massive fear of lunge whips. I can do anything I like with a crop now as I have done lots of desenzitising with them and he knows that I will not hurt him with it, I am now slowly trying to work up to a lunge whip. I have started to bring him into the paddock with the whip on the floor, I will then give him loose lead rope and just move it a bit with my foot, I have now progressed to being able to pick it up and put it back down again without him going nuts:rolleyes:

Slowly I will get there but this is over the period of a month so lots of patience needed me thinks:eek:


Active Member
Mar 8, 2007
Knee deep in muck
Not so much whip shy, just horrified when I dare to use it! He wouldn't trot up inhand and I tapped him, so he cantered inhand! Fun! He needs it to go on the right leg in canter in one rein but is fine on the other rein-odd horse!
Last edited:


New Member
Apr 30, 2009
worked with several whip shy horses, some its a case of desentizing them. one mare however had been beaten so a whip was never a good idea, we found that the reins or a nice thick section of rope used either side of her neck on the shoulders would give as good a result as a whip any day


New Member
Sep 8, 2006
Make it a part of his daily routine- leave the whip in his stable, leave a variety in there, feed him with it on/near the bowl, just have it about your person at all times, maybe in your boot, the progress to just holding it etc. Then in a safe area (arena) stick him on a lunge line and just walk in hand holding the whip (as you will have been during your daily business) chat away, sing whatever calm him.

(Just randomly- do you lunge with a lunge whip and how is he with that?)

Then gradually start to stroke him all over, literally stroke a leg but then leave it, give a polo a big pat and that's it for that day. He'll gradually start to realise there's nowt to be scared of! And may even associate it with treats :p

Then when he's fine with that, get on him on the lunge line (someone else holding him) and stroke all over, again, building up very gradually- lots of praise etc.

Gradually (and really don't rush him) you'll get to the stage where hitting it aginst your boot, slap down the shoulder/smack on the quarters will result in the correct reaction rather than blind panic.

This is a totally personal opinion, but I will NOT ride without a whip- it's just not worth it, if the whip will prevent something dangerous then it's worth it, so do take your time and soon even though you're unlikely to use it- you'll at least be able to carry it :)


New Member
Aug 12, 2005
Thanks :)

I wasn't sure if leaving them in his stable was a good idea or not, cos that's where he has the biggest issue with them..

I don't know if he was previously beaten in his stable but if I take the whip in to his stable with me (like when he's tacked up) he REALLY freaks out, but then he's fine when I pick it up on the way out of the stable and he's fine with my getting on holding it.

But yeah i'll try that later - putting it in his stable and leaving it. I have lunged him with a lunge whip actually and he was fine :confused: I wasn't cracking it behind him or anything but he knew it was there and was fine with it.

And I've actually never ridden him with a schooling whip sugarlump so he might be better with that :eek: my (experienced) friend rode him with one the week I got him and didn't know he was whip shy.... and he ran off when she used it, but she did flick it at him not a tickle. I'll try riding with a schooling whip next time and see how it goes.


Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
My horse is 24 now, I have given up trying to convince him. He never needs one, but he cannot tollerate being near another rider on another horse who is carrying one.

When I got Buddy he was petrified of any whip. He needed a dressage whip though, otherwise he would have become dead to the leg, and I didn't want to use spurs until the higher level movements were introduced.

I used the groundwork methods. Standing in the stable with a whip (dressage whip to start with). I hold the flicking end, and i simply stroked him all over with the handle end, very gently. Now I can mount with said whip, pass it down, take it from instructor, drop it on floor, anything - same with jumping whip.

However, a lunge whip...he hates them. Some people think that he may have been lunged and lunged and actually made contact with the whip when he slowed. However, I do the same with the lunge whip in stable, and he is fine, and to be honest he doesn't need the whip when on the lunge - he listens, and if he is lazy a click and swish with end of line is enough. I would comfortably now use one though...

Just a long process of getting old associations out of them....


Mmmmmmmmmm Chestnut
Feb 28, 2006
Nico hates whip and i know he has neve had a bad experience with them!! he is ok with a lunge whip but i think when i ride with one he sees it out of the corner of his, eye,

I agree with Joysacre about working on the edge of hie comfort zone and be patient while he gets used to it. the minute he relaxes move away from him as a reward and give him a stroke then try again, gradually you will get closer when he builds his trust up with you and the whip.

Hope it works out!


I Love My Olops!!!!!
Jul 15, 2003
Sunny Slough!!
Visit site
My girl is whip shy-her old owner used to beat her with them to get her jumping so she is scared stiff of them :(
I just dont used one on her, she doesnt need one & I dont want to stress her out by teaching her to accept it, she is nearly 20 now & would rather her be whip shy & happy by me not using one :)
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